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IRRITATOR



Paul Davis tells us that (with reference to _Irritator_):

> Did people know that it was going to be called Pissedoffasaurus?  

Is this a joke? I've spoken to Dave Martill at length about _Irritator_ (and to
Dino Frey and Arthur Cruickshank, all coauthors), and none of them mentioned
_this_. Sigh, yet another rumour to add to the list...

> The referees wouldn't allow it (surprise
> surprise).  The reason for this name is because the skull had been "messed
> about" supposedly to improve it by the brazilian preparators (in the same
> way they "improve" fossil fish by adding in extra sections to the body -
> the best I have seen is a specimen with 13 dorsal fins!). 

The Egyptian 'crocodile boy' beats the pants off the South American
fishes, but he seem to be authentic!! Err, let's not digress. DINOSAUR
LIST..

Yes, meddling with the skull led the team to suspect (initially) that
the animal was a pterosaur. The tooth replacement pattern and bone
thickness argued against this, and indeed it is now evident that it is
a theropod. As some have noted, the fact that the snout tip is missing
isn't exactly helpful as this may help clear up the affinities of
_Irritator_: these presently remain controversial (spinosaur
vs. bullatosaur). The publication of another Santana theropod,
_Angaturama_, shortly afterward, hints at the typically bizarre way in
which the universe works: here is a fossil that is only a snout tip!

Tom Holtz has recently referred to _Angaturama_ as 'part of the
_Baryonx_- _Spinosaurus_ complex', and indeed this may be the case
with _Irritator_ (a more complete description, I _think_ Phil Currie
is involved, is on the cards). The two are certainly different enough
to be different taxa, and Dave Martill even doubts the dinosaurian
identity of _Angaturama_: he told me it should be relegated to
Archosauria _incertae sedis_. If this is correct, and if
palaeontological politics aren't interfering, what _is_ _Angaturama_?
David Lambert asked me if I thought it was a pterosaur or a
crocodile... well, hell, I haven't even seen the paper.

Bones of contention (no pun) come about here because, basically,
everyone wants their mitts on the super-sexy Santana formation. Who
can blame them! It's now yielding birds (from the Crato member I
think), bits of azhdarchid, near-complete tapejarid material, and a
pterosaur bigger than either _Arambourgiania_ or _Quetzalcoatlus_. A
third theropod, a bunch of vertebrae that seem to be from an
oviraptorid, was also described recently. So all we need are some
freshwater plesiosaurs and I'm happy...

"Let's kick some tail!"

DARREN NAISH